Dame Silvia to party in Auckland

In a move that could be seen as a slight on Wellington, Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright has moved the traditional Waitangi Day garden party to Auckland.

Dame Silvia's last Waitangi Day as the Queen's representative will see her host the afternoon reception at Government House in Auckland, instead of Government House in Wellington.

Dame Silvia's spokesman Stefan Wolf confirmed it was the first time she had hosted the function in Auckland.

Mr Wolf denied Dame Silvia was snubbing Wellington and showing her Auckland colours in her last year in office.

Dame Silvia thought it was appropriate this year to "celebrate Waitangi Day in New Zealand's largest city", he said.

Other reasons cited included maintenance work being carried out on Government House in Wellington and the completion of extensions at Dame Silvia's Auckland residence.

The Wellington garden party has been a traditional function for politicians, diplomats and other invited guests.

The big South Island tribe Ngai Tahu will celebrate Waitangi Day at the country's southernmost runanga, in Awarua, Bluff.

Festivities will feature dignitaries including Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres and Health Minister Pete Hodgson, but they are likely to be upstaged by two rare and shy natives - a one-year-old kakapo chick named Kumi and a 13-year-old takahe called Robin.

Ngai Tahu spokesman Phil Tumaturoa said the birds' visit signified a "celebration of culture and heritage and the good relationship shared by Ngai Tahu and the Department of Conservation as a representative of the Crown".

Awarua runanga head Sir Tipene O'Regan said the runanga was happy to be taking its turn to host the celebrations, with the focus on mahinga kai - the traditional and customary food-gathering practices of Ngai Tahu.

The kakapo chick is one of four hand-reared in Nelson last breeding season.

The takahe male was originally from Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds, but was transferred to the Te Anau Wildlife Centre last year.


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